10 Steps for Fast, Focused, Flexible Planning
Two of the most important factors in sustained organizational success are a strong, positive operating culture and a sound, carefully thought out strategy coupled with a detailed, time-based plan for implementation. These “must haves” are a direct result of effective strategic planning.
Taking the time once a year to bring your management team together for a day or two of carefully organized, purposely lead strategic planning (followed by quarterly, one day updates) can be an invaluable way to gain focus, clarity, confidence, and commitment to the shared goals and vision of the organization.
Yes, even in these times of uncertainty, if fact, especially in these unprecedented times, planning is essential for companies who aim to be on the positive side of economic recovery. The opportunity to create greater distance between you and your competitors is greatest when the path forward seems less certain.
That’s why we developed the following 10-step approach for strategic planning, which, when properly organized and professionally facilitated, can bring about outstanding results.
These 10 steps frame the planning agenda. Each set the stage for deep, meaningful discussion, dialogue and debate among the management team that serve to organize, galvanize, and focus the collective energy and effort of the entire organization.
- Mission: Why do we exist? What business are we in and who are we here to serve (stakeholders: identified as those who would feel a sense of loss should the organization cease to exist).
- Values: What are our non-negotiable standards of organizational behaviors? How will they be monitored? What are our performance standards and how do they combine with these behavioral standards to form the review/evaluation process?
- Vision: What are we building toward? What is it we aspire to become and how will moving closer to our stated vision impact our stakeholders?
- COS (rather than SWOT): What are our Concerns, Opportunities, and Strengths (Unique strengths). These unique strengths form the foundation for our operational strategies.
- Future Business History: Starting five years out, what would we have to have accomplished for us to feel good about our progress? Then three years, then one year. What needs to be true or in place to meet our one-year, three-year, and five-year targets?
- Objectives: One-year targets expressed in specific, measurable terms. This forms the foundation for our one-year operating plan.
- Strategies: How will we leverage our unique strengths to maximize our best opportunities for growth and success.
- Tactics: Over the next 90 days, what do we need to accomplish, organizationally and departmentally to meet our one-year targets? A “champion” is assigned for each item, someone to ensure the requirement is carried out. Since reporting out occurs every 90 days, keeping track is made certain.
- One Page Business Plan: All 8 items listed above are captured in summary form providing a simple, concise tool enabling managers to stay focused and on track. This also makes it easy and efficient to communicate the plan organization-wide.
- Quarterly, one-day review/recap meetings to assess progress and determine next 90-day tactics. This 90-day review process enables the management team to stay on track and to adjust to changing circumstances as the year unfolds.
Following this 10-step process can bring any organization to a higher level of planning, performance, and success. For more information, including details on preparing for the planning process, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.